Girish Gupta

HOME

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Judge jailed under Hugo Chavez begins trial in absentia
Nov. 28, 2012 — Caracas, Venezuela

Published by GlobalPost

The trial of an arrested judge who claims she was raped while in prison began Wednesday in absentia. Maria Lourdes Afiuni has repeatedly refused to enter the courtroom, believing that she will not be granted a fair hearing.

The case has angered human rights groups who say her imprisonment demonstrates a lack of judicial independence in Venezuela.

During her defense, one of Afiuni’s lawyers, Thelma Fernandez, described her client as “the most emblematic political prisoner in the country.”

Wednesday's hearing was the latest chapter in a case that Human Rights Watch has cited as a "disturbing" example of President Hugo Chavez tightening his grip on power.

The decision to try Afiuni in absentia follows a new criminal code approved this year by Chavez, who was re-elected to a third term in October.

“It’s a sad fact when a president, usurping the National Assembly … creates a criminal code for the sole purpose of judging political prisoners,” said Jose Amalio Graterol, Afiuni’s principal lawyer, as he waited outside the courtroom on Wednesday.

Afiuni hugged her lawyers and brother outside the courtroom though was unable, by law, to speak to the press. She hopes to make her voice heard through Twitter.

“They’re afraid of what she might say,” said Nelson Afiuni, her brother, as he waited for the trial to begin.

The 49-year-old judge faces charges of corruption and abuse of authority. She was imprisoned in December 2009 after allowing the release of a businessman charged with subverting currency controls, an extremely common practice here.

Afiuni said that Eligio Cedeno had been held in prison too long while awaiting trial and so ordered his release.

The move angered Chavez, who on national television demanded Afiuni be given a 30-year prison sentence. However, she has failed to cooperate and has been held in pretrial detention for almost three years.

Just days ago, it was revealed that Afiuni was raped while in prison, according to an account she gave to local journalist Francisco Olivares as well as Graterol.

Venezuela’s Prisons Minister Iris Varela hit back, saying, “All the stories she has written, everything she has told her lawyer, it’s nothing but lies.”

“This is just part of the complete lack of judicial independence in Venezuela,” said Pedro Pizano, strategy and development associate at the Human Rights Foundation in New York. “This rape allegation will put more fear into those judges that may be considering issuing independent decisions.”

The trial will continue on Dec. 19.

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






More...

Crisis-hit Venezuela halts publication of another major indicator
Mar. 21, 2017


Back in Venezuela, 'world's worst skier' proud of his performance
Feb. 26, 2017


Some poor Venezuelan parents give away children amid deep crisis
Dec. 15, 2016


Desperate to dump soon-worthless cash, Venezuelans flock to banks
Dec. 13, 2016


Inflation-hit Venezuela to pull largest bill from circulation
Dec. 11, 2016


Venezuela confirms bigger bills amid world's highest inflation
Dec. 04, 2016


Venezuela PDVSA awards $3.2 bln oil service contracts, protest brews
Sept. 21, 2016


Maduro revels in support from Zimbabwe, Iran as critics decry failed summit
Sept. 18, 2016


Venezuela summit draws few leaders in blow to Maduro
Sept. 17, 2016


Near Venezuela summit, pots-and-pans protest showed domestic tumult
Sept. 17, 2016


Once 'Pearl of Caribbean' gets new shine for Venezuela summit
Sept. 16, 2016


Maduro boasts start of Venezuela summit despite 'gringo pressure'
Sept. 13, 2016


Venezuela's troubles overshadow Non-Aligned Summit
Sept. 11, 2016


Venezuela renews drilling tender after earlier collapse - sources
Aug. 26, 2016


Hungry in a Venezuelan slum, a Facebook Live video
Aug. 04, 2016








© Girish Gupta